Summary: An anti-materialistic-countercultural sermon, extolling the virtues of travelling light.
Sermon for 5 Epiphany Yr C, 8/02/2004
Based on Lk 5:1-11
By Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
Pastor of Grace Lutheran Church &
Chaplain of the Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
Marti Guixe is homeless—unless you call the world his home.
Actually, let me revise that. The 36-year-old design consultant has two homes, but he doesn’t live in them much. One is in Barcelona and another is in Berlin, where he shares a flat with a friend whenever he’s in town.
Marti’s work doesn’t require that he be located in a bricks-and-mortar office building, tethered to a desk from 9 to 5 every day. He is free to leave everything and follow the instincts of his considerable wanderlust—to come and go as he pleases, and this suits him just fine.
His internet website is his office. When he travels, he doesn’t carry a computer. His business card lists no home address, no phone number. Just a web address. You may find him in London to help design a Spanish footwear store (display shoes are Velcroed to the walls), or Milan where guests at the store are invited to write graffiti on the walls.
As a wanderer, Guixe has developed a set of rules for the road. For example, carry nothing, he says. Knowledge is available everywhere; you don’t even need a computer. The only thing you really need to take is yourself and your ideas.
Don’t think of yourself as away from home, he says. Anywhere can be home if you have the right attitude about it. You can’t say, “Well, there is a plot of land with a wooden structure on it at the corner of such and such and that is my home.” How odd to think of a material place as “home.” A few years ago, we needed a physical base with a phone line, street address, a mailbox, in order to receive information. Not anymore. So when you travel, you’re not really travelling and leaving “home”—you’re simply moving; you are at home.
One more thing: approach and flirt. Guixe likes to interact with strangers when he’s “moving” about the world. People who love to travel generally do so to gain more knowledge about different cultures. The best way to do this is to talk to people. He suggests flirting—not in a physical way, but engaging people in light banter, talking to people in a relaxed and playful way. Such experiences will help you learn more about the region through which you’re moving—better for you to enjoy or do business.
Of course, it is easier to leave everything and follow your bliss today than ten years ago—although even for a new millennium nomad wannabe such as myself, there would be considerable shuffling of affairs before I could actually pull it off. But to leave home and hearth 2,000 years ago, and follow a Galilean itinerant preacher was, in the eyes of many, reckless folly.
Jesus, like Guixe, had some rules for the road that he would later share with his friends. But for now, it was enough that their faith was strong enough to leave their boats—their offices—and follow Jesus. 1
Do the words of our gospel today “catch” you? Do they tug at your heart? Do they leave you wishing you were one of those first disciples of Jesus? Do you wish you, like them, and like Marti Guixe in the story could LEAVE EVERYTHING BEHIND AND FOLLOW JESUS? Or do these words of our gospel disturb us and cause us to want to run away because they are just too threatening to our real, everyday lives? We maybe question Jesus and say something like: “WHO ME? ME LEAVE EVERYTHING TO FOLLOW JESUS AND TO CATCH PEOPLE?! OH NO, LORD! YOU’VE GOT THE WRONG PERSON! HELP! LET ME OUT OF HERE! OH NO! NOT ME! AFTER ALL, I LIKE MY LIFESTYLE; I LIKE ALL OF MY STUFF; IT ALL MAKES ME FEEL COMFORTABLE AND REMINDS ME AND OTHERS OF HOW SUCCESSFUL I’VE BEEN IN LIFE—DOESN’T IT?
And yet, those words of Jesus “follow me” will not go away. They keep pestering us and nagging us to no end. And the lifestyle of the disciples doesn’t help any either—what with their leaving everything and following Jesus! Surely I can’t do that! Surely that’s only some idealistic, romantic dream, isn’t it? Surely that is at best to be interpreted as “hyperbole,” isn’t it? Surely in our time and place Jesus doesn’t call us like that or expect us to LEAVE ALL, does he? And yet, there are those like Alan Watts who have said today: “You can never get enough of what you don’t really need.” Hummmmm… Maybe Jesus does call us to look at life differently than mainstream culture. Maybe our lifestyle of “more is never enough” isn’t actually enough. Maybe our materialistic obsessions are harmful and wrong. Maybe I am not merely what I possess.